There is something exciting and romantic about boarding a ferry heading out to an island or even to another country. Ferries are like mini cruise ships with shops and food that not only accept passengers but also their vehicles and RVs.
While taking your RV on a ferry is not always the cheapest way to travel, these five ferry trips will get you and your rig to many places that most RVers might never get to see and experience.
When taking your RV onto a ferry, there are a few things to keep in mind. The maximum height that most ferries can accommodate is 13 feet 9 inches.
Because the ferry can experience waves and tidal movement, don’t try to hit that maximum. For example, the Alaskan and British Columbia ferry system maximum height for RVs is 13 feet to accommodate for boat movement.
Keep an eye out for maximum RV and trailer width and length as well. Ferry system websites, employees, and deckhands will assist you with size details and may have longer RVs board first or last onto the boat.
In addition to size restrictions, make sure that you visit a dump station before boarding a ferry and shut off your propane tanks. Because of maritime law restrictions, RVs cannot be accessed during travel. Be sure you have everything you need before exiting your vehicle and enjoying your trip.
1. Anacortes to Vancouver Island
If you want a little international adventure with your RV, traveling around the large and beautiful Vancouver Island is a great way to see whales and the amazing shorelines of British Columbia, Canada.
Vancouver Island has plenty of RV-friendly parks and campgrounds. One of the best ways to get there is to take the Washington State Ferry from Anacortes to Sidney on the Saanich Peninsula of Vancouver Island.
U.S. citizens will need to bring and show their passports and enhanced driver’s license when making reservations and when boarding. This ferry trip takes about three hours and meanders through the stunning San Juan Islands.
The cost for taking your RV onto this ferry is one of the highest. A 20 to 22 foot RV (or vehicle/trailer combination) costs around $100 each way, but the views of the islands could be worth it.
2. Maine to Nova Scotia
Another international trip that is on many RV bucket lists is the high-speed CAT ferry from Portland, Maine to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia in Canada. Driving this same route will take double the amount of time, so this trip is worth it if you have a larger RV.
Nova Scotia has dozens of RV parks and campgrounds and some of the best views of the North Atlantic. The 5 1/2 hour ferry trip is not only convenient, but it’s also fun. The ferry has food, wine, and beer sampling as well as live music. The ship also has several cafes and lounges, a children’s area, and a kennel for pets.
The views from the ship are mostly of open ocean, but you can pretend you are on a mini cruise with your RV close by. Again, like any international trip, make sure you have your passport and correct documentation.
3. Bellingham to Whittier
The ultimate RV ferry trip has got to be one of the Washington to Alaska trips aboard a ferry on the Alaska Marine Highway. There are several trips to choose from, but one of the most sought after is the Cross Gulf trip from Bellingham, Washington to Whittier, Alaska.
This trip drops RVers off in a perfect location to travel to Denali National Park. This trip takes 4 1/2 days and because sleeping in your RV is not allowed, you will need to reserve a cabin.
However, you are allowed to bring your pets on board. Because of the high costs, this ferry trip should be a destination in itself. The views are like those of a traditional cruise and you’ll see whales, snow-capped mountains, and portions of the Inside Passage.
The ferry also has a food court, cocktail lounge, movie theater, and a heated solarium that protects passengers from the chilly winds.
4. Manitowoc to Ludington
We can’t forget the Great Lakes when it comes to amazing ferry trips. The ferry ride from Manitowoc, Wisconsin to Ludington, Michigan across Lake Michigan accepts a variety of RV sizes and charges by the foot.
The steamship ferry, named the SS Badger, takes about four hours to cross the lake and actually allows you to keep pets in your RV. You are also allowed to bring on your own food and non-alcoholic drinks.
The SS Badger is also different in that you are not allowed to drive your vehicle onto the boat. This is taken care of by ship personnel. The ferry also doesn’t allow passengers to sit in their RV during the trip, but staterooms are available for rent if you need to take a nap.
Otherwise, the views of the wide open fresh water is a great reason to sit out on the deck.
5. Cape May-Lewes Ferry
While the Cape May-Lewes Ferry ride is only 17 miles across the Delaware River and Delaware Bay, it might be one of the most fun and most convenient. Not only does this ferry service make bringing your RV from North Cape May, New Jersey to Lewes, Delaware a breeze, but it saves nearly 200 miles of driving along the Atlantic Coast.
The Cape May-Lewes Ferry is a popular ship for special events, live music, and food and drink festivals and can become a bit of a party boat during certain holidays. However, there are plenty of lighthouses, seabirds, whales, and other ship traffic to watch while on deck or inside the comfortable lounge areas.